Before we dig into the logistics, here are a couple of my other favorite race pics:
I feel like good race shots from the end of a marathon are pretty rare so I should hoard & flaunt them whenever I get the chance. #yourewelcome
Location: Eugene, OR
Date: Late April/early May (May 1, 2016 this year)
Price: *Extremely* reasonable if you get in early:
- $85 until 10/1/2015; 11:59 p.m.
- $95 until 1/2/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $105 until 3/15/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $115 until 4/22/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $140 at Health & Fitness Expo
- $65 until 10/1/2015; 11:59 p.m.
- $75 until 1/2/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $85 until 3/15/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $95 until 4/22/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $120 at Health & Fitness Expo
- $20 until 1/2/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $25 until 3/15/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $30 until 4/22/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $40 at Health & Fitness Expo
KIDS DUCK DASH
- $10 until 1/2/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $15 until 3/15/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $20 until 4/22/2016; 11:59 p.m.
- $20 at Health & Fitness Expo
Deadlines/sellout factor: I don't know why but I had this idea that this was one of those really popular races that sells out super fast, but at least by expo day there were still spots in the half and the full. (Don't know about the 5K.)
Field Size: Again, not sure about the caps, but the results page lists the following numbers of finishers:
- Marathon - 1666 finishers
- Half Marathon - 2560 finishers
- 5K - 472 finishers
This was basically my perfect size race--big enough not to feel tiny, but small enough to make race day logistics pretty easy (including being able to actually run in the first miles).
The expo took place in a soccer field attached to Hayward Field proper. To be honest I think they could have been clearer about this. All the info I got just said that the expo would take place "in the shadow of historic Hayward Field" which is pretty ambiguous. My strategy was to set the GPS for Hayward Field & then follow everyone else. After some hunting around, I finally found the little soccer field. So in the future it would be nice if they were like, "in the soccer field on the west side of Hayward Field (enter on 15th st)." Apparently I was not alone in this because as I was walking back with my bag to meet Don (about 15 minutes before the expo was closing), frantic people kept coming up to me & going, "OMG WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR BIB??"
You get them in the soccer field west of the track, enter on 15th st.
The expo was open from 9am - 6pm, plus a shorter window Friday afternoon. (No race day pickup unless you pay extra for it. I actually approve of them at least having this option for people who are local but not THAT local.) Again, I'm not sure why, but I kind of had in my mind that Eugene was a really popular, destination-type race. False. As my friend T who arrived ahead of me texted, "This is definitely a small town race. The expo is tiny. If you need anything don't plan to get it here."
She was not wrong. It was small, & practically deserted by the time I arrived. Now, I don't really care about this because I've never really been one to wander around the expo for hours, and all I really cared about was getting my bib & shirt. I rarely buy race schwag but this was kind of a destination race for me, so I actually might have paid real money for something extra cool if they'd had anything, but it was just kind of more basic T-shirts and a few tanks in a limited number of designs, and I wasn't particularly inspired. Hop Valley had a beer garden, but being really not a fan of hoppy beers, I skipped it. There was literally nothing else I needed to do there & I was in & out in maybe 10 minutes.
As marathons go, I really liked this course. It was a mix of city streets and park bike/foot trails, including part of Pre's Trail (though I could not tell you which part; it wasn't obvious and I didn't go out of my way to look for it ahead of time). The half and full start at the same time and stay together for the first ten miles, a huge sort of dog-leg to the south. After the split, there's some tooling around town, then another huge dog-leg to the west along the Willamette River.
Most of the time I couldn't see the river, but there were some nice views when you crossed the various bridges. There was a bit of congestion at the beginning but things thinned out fairly soon and I never felt too crowded.
By and large it is a pretty flat course, with just maybe a handful of shorter, steeper parts (but really in the grand scheme of things, it's pretty darn flat). There are some long open exposed stretches, but also a goodly amount of shade (which I greatly appreciated given our weather).
The water stops were well-organized and staffed by enthusiastic volunteers, & seemed to appear pretty close to every two miles, which, again, I really appreciated. There were also plenty of spectators and "spirit groups" along the way, and everyone seemed really excited to be out there.
My friend T said that she found the ground on the half course to be kind of annoyingly chewed up, but I didn't notice this or just must have been on a different part of the road because it was fine for me. She also mentioned that there was no mile 11 marker for the half-ers, which kind of freaked everyone out.
Like I said in my previous post, the start was an easy half mile or less from where we stayed, and the race was small enough that honestly if I hadn't had a bag to check I probably could have left the hotel at 6:45 and been totally fine. Corrals were super well organized and you could easily slide into whichever one you needed to be in (vs. hurdling the barriers). There were a billion port-a-potties and I think at ~6:30 I waited behind one girl.
My only complaint is the bag check. It was cold so I was putting off getting rid of my sweatshirt, but around 6:40 I decided to go see about dropping things off and HO-LY SHITE SNACKS there was a line like 100m long. Like that type of line where you start walking towards the end and you're like, "This must be the end. Really? It can't be too much father. SERIOUSLY? Maybe it just loops all the way around and eats itself." I waited for about 10 minutes or so before they announced to people to just drop their bags where they were & the volunteers would collect & stow them, because we needed to get over to the start. I don't know if this was a staffing issue or what but it was the only part of race morning that didn't go 100% smoothly for me (though it was completely fine in the end).
Tech T, plastic water bottle (which they handed out at the end instead of disposable water bottles = A+ for environmentalism), & a rather hefty medal.
And of course, there are the post-race pancakes.
(Also beers too, I think, but again, Hop Valley = not for me.)
If you decide to run:
Let's be clear, there is nothing to see or do in Eugene unless you are a track nerd & you just want to, like, go stare at Hayward Field for a few minutes. Literally, there is the University of Oregon & the infrastructure needed in a college town (pizza, beer, coffee, etc.) but that is about it. You do not need to plan extra days to "see the sights."
(Sidenote: If you're traveling a reasonable distance & thinking of making a trip out of it, spend those extra days in either Portland (north) or the Rogue Valley (south). Two days in Eugene itself is more than sufficient.)
This is literally all there is to see in Eugene, the end.
In terms of race travel, though, here are my top tips:
- Book early if you want the cheap price, but you probably don't have to worry about it selling out right away.
- That said, if you're even *thinking* about registering & not local, book a hotel room nearby ASAP. There are at least three within half a mile of the start, but apparently they booked up really fast. I booked us at the Days Inn for $110/night in like October and did not regret it. (The hotel even opened up breakfast at 5am & extended race day check-out until 1pm for everyone.) Immediately adjacent to the Days Inn are a Best Western & the University Inn. There are some other hotels father away, which is also fine as they run shuttles to & from a bunch of them and also Autzen Stadium, where there is ample parking. (Parking near Hayward Field itself is all street parking, plus a lot of surrounding roads are blocked off for the race, so try that at your peril.) I am just super lazy & like being able to walk to things, so I'd do the Days Inn or Best Western again in a heart beat.
- For pre-race carb loading, try La Perla for pizza & other Italian or Beppe & Gianni for somewhat fancier Italian. They're owned by the same family & both were excellent.
- You would think post-race brunch/lunch would be a shit show in such a small town, but we found some really tasty gastropubs just a few blocks from the race & they were nearly all deserted. (I think we ended up eating at First National Tap House on Broadway, which was great.)
- Try Falling Sky for tasty, interesting beer. Ninkasi is great too but gets a lot of distribution so there's less of a reason to make a special trip just because you're in Eugene.
- Hit up Wandering Goat or Perk for tasty independent coffee.
- If tasty high-end pastries strike your fancy, head to Noisette Pastry Kitchen.
- If you feel like a ~20 minute drive to what feels like the middle of nowhere, there's some delicious wine out at Silven Ridge. Some of it is free, they've got a gorgeous view, & three-time Olympic runner & Eugene Running Club coach Cathie Twomey Bellamy is sometimes pouring. #onlyineugene
I had a great time at this race and I would absolutely 100% run it again if I felt like spending the travel $$. (On the other hand, Oregon is kind of ridiculously gorgeous & full of delicious wine, so it's not like one needs to work too hard to find excuses to visit.)
It was well-organized & had around 5,000 runners, but still had the feel of a friendly, small town race. There's nothing to complain about on the course, and I can totally see how on a cool day it could be a great PR course. If Eugene is on your list & you have the opportunity, do it!!